Physicists have created a camera that can see all types of radiation

© Photo : ICFO/ D. Bartolome Matrix digital cameras on the basis of graphene, is able to see all types of electromagnetic wavesPhysicists have created a camera that can see all types of radiation© Photo : ICFO/ D. Bartolome

Quantum dots and graphene helped physicists from Spain to create the «all-seeing» camera, able to photograph simultaneously in the optical, infrared and ultraviolet ranges, said in an article published in the journal Nature Photonics.

«In General, our devices have huge potential. They can be used for a variety of purposes, ranging from security cameras, smartphones and fire systems to night vision systems, «vision» for vehicles and surveillance systems for the environment» — Frank Coppens (Frank Koppens) from the Institute of science and technology, Barcelona (Spain).

The creation of cameras that obtain images in «invisible» to us parts of the electromagnetic spectrum, is not something new for physicists – like digital devices installed on Board of many satellites and telescopes, appeared at the end of the last century. Thanks to them every day we can see new photos of galaxies, nebulae and other objects, the resulting «Chandra», «Spitzer», «Fermi» and other space observatories.

The problem, as Coppens says, is that all those plates are not made of silicon and of other semiconductors and other materials, the production of which in industrial scale is impossible or extremely expensive. For this reason, modern camera phones and digital cameras are unable to photograph in the dark or doing ultraviolet photography of the Sun.

Coppens and his colleagues solved this problem by combining conventional silicon cell with two new nanomaterials – graphene, the «Nobel» in carbon, and quantum dots of lead sulfide.

Their camera is a kind of «sandwich» of three layers. The first is the conventional image sensor with a resolution of 388 288 pixels, over which is pasted a film from pure graphene, which, in turn, applied to quantum dots. Graphene and dots are transparent to visible radiation, but they can detect infrared and ultraviolet light and convert it into electrical oscillations, for the matrix.

«For the manufacture of these matrices does not require expensive materials or complicated techniques of cultivation. Our technology allows cheap and easy enough to create them at room temperature, pressure and other parameters, which significantly reduces the price of production. In addition, these matrices can easily be embedded in other silicon chips,» adds Steen Goossens (Goossens Stijn), a colleague of Coppens.

To illustrate the efficiency of this «all-seeing» camera, scientists have obtained pictures of the night sky and showed that it can be used as a night vision device that doesn’t need «illumination» of all surrounding objects the infrared emitter, as a modern instrument of the same kind. In addition, scientists have obtained images of various objects, illuminated by the UV lamp, photographing them in all three ranges.

As physicists say, such a matrix can already be implanted in cell phones and other types of digital technology, greatly extending their knowledge and giving them the opportunity to solve a completely new task.